The Real Danger of Addiction in Teens
It is a story told far too often.
A teenager has a bright future. He gets good grades, has plenty of friends and begins thinking about colleges and scholarships. He goes to a high school party one night, where his peers are experimenting with drugs, like heroin and Xanax. They pressure him to try some. He does.
A few days later, he attends another party. He tries more drugs. The next week? He does the same thing. Before he knows it, he is experiencing cravings to use more drugs. He becomes physically and psychologically uncomfortable without them.
The story continues…
He engages in more substance use. Over time, he becomes obsessed with trying to find more drugs. As a result, his grades begin to decline. His relationships sour. His parents start to wonder why their child is acting differently. He’s more argumentative and exhibits mood swings regularly.
Once you cross the line of addiction there is no going back
Before he realizes it, his bright future dims. He’s struggling with drug addiction, which has consumed much of his life. Instead of deciding on which college to attend, he spends time trying to access more drugs.
Teen drug addiction is widespread in the United States. According to the Monitoring the Future Survey, 13.3 percent of high school seniors engaged in illicit drug use in 2017. Once addicted, it is difficult to give up substance use — especially for teens.
Effects of Teen Addiction
Drug and alcohol misuse can cause significant health problems among adults. It can cause health, relationship, job, and legal issues. However, substance use is particularly dangerous for teens, whose brains do not finish developing until about age 25.
As children grow, their brains develop unevenly. The parts of the brain that control motivation, emotion, and coordination typically take form much more quickly than do the parts that are in charge of impulsivity and reasoning. Because the adolescent brain is chemically naive, drugs and alcohol can disrupt its development.
Brains that have not fully developed are particularly vulnerable to the effects of substance use and addiction. As a result, teens are more prone than adults to mental health problems, like anxiety disorders and depression.
Some long-term effects of teen substance use include:
- Liver problems
- Heart complications
- Memory issues
- Increased risk of infectious disease
- Increased risk of psychiatric disorders
- Increased risk of overdose
Many adolescents who are battling a severe substance use disorder struggle to achieve or maintain good grades. In many instances, teens with an addiction skip school, become argumentative with teachers or engage in violence with classmates.
Addiction is Sometimes an Internal Struggle
Teens who experience drug or alcohol addiction often struggle to live normal, happy lives. Once addicted, their lives revolve around substance use. Much of their day is often spent trying to figure out how to gain access to more drugs or alcohol. They also have trouble controlling intense drug or alcohol cravings.
Addiction is a family disease. Teen addiction affects more than just the adolescent — it also affects their legal guardians. For example, parents of teens with a substance use disorder often experience significant mental health problems because they constantly worry or stress about their child. In some cases, these guardians may start using drugs or alcohol to numb their own psychological pain.
Signs of Teen Drug and Alcohol Use
Drug or alcohol misuse can be difficult for parents to recognize. However, knowing the effects of substance use can help you better understand what a teen with addiction deals with on a daily basis.
Some telltale signs of substance use among adolescents include:
- Appearing tired or lethargic
- Getting in trouble at school or with law enforcement
- Avoiding family and friends
- Giving up old hobbies
- Hiding drug paraphernalia in their room or vehicle
- Exhibiting mood swings
- Borrowing money
- Staying out past curfew
Many adolescents experiencing a substance use disorder appear irritable or secretive. They may also begin spending time with adults who could provide them with drugs. If you’re a parent, it is important to know where your teen is throughout the day.
To prevent teen substance use, spend time with your adolescent. Teach them how to avoid stressful situations, ways to overcome bullying and ways to say “no” to their peers when offered drugs or alcohol. Your teen may think that most kids their age drink or use drugs regularly, but ensure that they know this is not true.
Solutions for Drug Addicted Teens
If your adolescent is dealing with a drug or alcohol addiction, treatment may be needed. The Recovery Village offers evidence-based techniques intended to help people better manage their substance use disorder. At each facility, medical experts cater treatment plans to fit an individual’s specific needs. To learn more about how treatment can help people heal, contact The Recovery Village today.